There have been two major Egyptian Revivals in Europe and America. One followed Napoleon’s invasion of Egypt at the end of the eighteenth century and the second followed the opening of King Tutankhamun’s tomb in 1922/23. The latter inspired a rash of bookends during the Art deco period of the nineteen twenties. We do not know of any nineteenth century Egyptian revival bookends inspired by Napoleon’s adventures, however the Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History suggests that in the latter part of the 19th century and continuing into the early 20th century there was a renewed interest in in Orientalism and exoticism. It was this period that occasionally produced small decorative works such as bookends for American households based on Egyptian themes.
These Kathodian Bronze Works or KBW bookends show an Egyptian Scribe. As far as we know, KBW was not active after 1916, so we attribute these bookends to the influence of the first Egyptian Revival period.
The KBW bookend closely resembles the statuette of a Royal Scribe, Min-nakht, of the XVIII Dynasty in the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, MD both in size and content. The statuette was acquired by Henry Walters at auction. The 1922 Sotheby’s London Auction was of Rev. William MacGregor’s “remarkable collection of Egyptian Antiquities…” (Sotheby & Co. 1922). MacGregor is known to have shared his pre-Tutankhamun collection with art enthusiasts and collectors, so this small statue is apparently the inspiration for the KBW Egyptian Scribe.
This Royal Scribe is also an example that there are still bargains to be had in bookends. We purchased the pair at a Southern California mall this past November for $23.